Category: Society

Selective admissions


Corinthian capitals.jpgHistory professor Stephen Mihm has a new column at on the origins of selective admissions processes to elite American colleges and universities, particulalry the promotion of geographical diversity:

the number of top-achieving high school seniors who made the cut at the most elite universities reached record lows this year. Stanford, for example, only admitted 5 percent of applicants, the fewest in its history; other top institutions reported similar numbers.

This may look like meritocracy reaching its ultimate rarefaction, yet the motives that led top colleges and universities to introduce highly selective admissions a century ago were far from lofty. The aim was to keep out one group in particular: Jews.

Until the turn of the last century, there was no such thing as “selective admissions,” even at the top universities. If students could pass an entrance exam, or belonged to the right family, they were in. There was no dossier, no need to show that you were “well-rounded.”

Nor was there any pretense of seeking diversity. Ivy League schools in the early 19th century were remarkably homogenous. The standard class at Harvard, for example, contained a staggering number of white Protestants drawn from elite families in Massachusetts.

Difficult for a practice with such specious origins to ever really redeem itself. And now, as Mihm explains, selective admissions has been folded into a highly elaborate process that raises serious questions about the future of American society. Where do we go from here? These are some of the real challenges facing American higher education. On verra, as they say. Honest take on a tough subject by Mihm.

Faculty in the Media, April 2014


Joye on the deck of a boat

University of Georgia oceanographer Mandy Joye talks about the work scientists will be doing in the Gulf of Mexico on board the research vessel Atlantis and and the submersible Alvin, background. JOHN FITZHUGH — SUN HERALD

On the leading issues of day, new discoveries, prestigious awards and newly published studies, Franklin Faculty continue to speak out and receive coverage across a variety of media. A sample:


Joye leads research group back to examine Gulf floor on the fourth anniversary of the BP oil spill – Nearly four years after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, researchers – led by UGA’s Samantha Joye – are venturing back into the waters, reports the Gulfport Sun Herald.  “Our work is aimed at understanding the long-term impacts of the 2010 blowout,” said Joye.  Article also filed by the Associated Press.

UGA research team lead by assistant professor of chemistry Shanta Dhar discovers a new way to deliver a promising drug that may one day make it a viable treatment for numerous forms of cancer, the ABH reports. 

Rethink education to fuel bioeconomy, says report – article quotes Joy Doran-Peterson, a associate professor of microbiology

High Speed trading used to Mean Carrier Pigeons, column by associate professor of history Stephen Mihm at

Georgia Virtual History Project digitizes and mobilizes state's past – ABH article quotes Christopher Lawton, a history lecturer

Lawton also quoted in a story on Georgia Virtual History Project explores Sapelo’s diverse histories – ABH

Temporary assistant professor Jerry Shannon quoted in Small retail grocers, improved transit might be key to shrinking 'food deserts' –

Noted UGA chemist honoredGregory H. Robinson, Foundation Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, has been named UGA’s recipient of the Southeastern Conference Faculty Achievement Award for 2014

NSF grant allows UGA researchers to monitor deep-sea plumes – ABH reports that Daniela Di Iorio, an associate professor in the Franklin College of Arts & Sciences, receives an $818,395 grant to develop instrumentation to monitor deep-sea plumes, a process made challenging by high pressures and water temperatures above 300 degrees Celsius at great depths.

UGA African American Choral Ensemble celebrates 25 years of ‘togetherness’ – ABH – article quotes Gregory Broughton, ensemble director and associate professor in the Hugh Hodgson School of Music.

Article by Henry Louis Gates in The Root quotes Russell Professor and history department chair Claudio Saunt on "Why Most Black People Aren't Part Indian"


2014 Truman Scholar Sarah Mirza


SarahMirza.jpgThe Truman Scholarship has awarded annually since 1975 to a select group of students who display extraordinary potential for leadership in public service. Franklin student Sarah Mirza joins the distinguished group this year:

Mirza, an Honors student majoring in Spanish and geography at the University of Georgia, has received a 2014 Harry S. Truman Scholarship, which recognizes juniors with exceptional leadership potential who are committed to careers in government and elsewhere in public service.

Mirza is a graduate of Grand Island Senior High in Grand Island, Nebraska and a recipient of UGA's Foundation Fellowship. She was one of 59 students nationwide to receive the scholarship, which offers up to $30,000 for graduate study. The Franklin College of Arts and Sciences student is the 19th UGA recipient of the Truman scholarship since 1982, the first year UGA students received the award.

Fantastic honor for Mirza and the university. Mirza is developing her potential and building for a powerful career that will make the greatest use of her dedication for service. Students who ask the most of themselves bring the university closer to its full potential, and so we all celebrate in Mirza's outstanding achievements.

Why support Franklin College?


Privately funded scholarships have a direct and personal impact on UGA students and provide opportunities for them to achieve their dreams. Often the impact is life changing and can best be understood in the words of the students themselves. Below are the words of one of our students, junior psychology major Toni McKoy, whose life has been changed through the generosity of a scholarship donor.


This has been a critical past year for me, I've had to juggle classes, work, and club activities in order to stay on top of classes and financially support myself. After a rough first semester and unfortunate events following, I decided to pursue what I thought would make me a happier person in life. I continued my studies in Japanese and I made a critical decision to switch my major from Animal Science to Psychology. I even decided to become more active in the Japan Club at UGA. I ran and was elected as the advertiser, historian, and dance coordinator for the club. After all of these changes and accomplishments, I decided to further challenge myself. This school year I hope to begin my music minor and join even more clubs and organizations around campus. Next summer I wish to be able to study abroad in Japan to strengthen my language skills.

Now that I have more goals I'll have to try even harder to keep my grades up, stay active in activities and work throughout the year. Last school year I worked at the Georgia Museum of Art as a security guard. While it would be nice to get that position again, I would like to expand my work experience which, at the moment, includes my work as a security guard and as a youth coordinator at a local Atlanta organization called Project South. I've been working for Project South for the last three summers as a coordinator and a team leader of a youth summer program in the Atlanta area. This experience made me realize that I enjoy working in the field, doing research based work, and helping others. This was important to realize, because by pursuing my degree in Psychology, I can work in all three areas. After obtaining my Bachelor's degree, I plan to find a job and begin my Master's degree. After that, I want to be able to do research based work and maybe travel around the country or even the world. At the same time, I still want to be able to enjoy things I love like studying music and the Japanese language and culture.

It is crucial that we continue to offer the opportunity of the UGA experience to the widest possible array of students. Read more stories about what scholarships mean to our students here.

[Re]Defining 'Food Deserts'


Very interesting new research from the Jerry Shannon in the department of geography on access to healthy food:

The concept of food deserts grew out of a need to describe areas with the combination of a low-income population and reduced availability of stores selling healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables. Online resources made available by the USDA identify food deserts by measuring the distance to the closest supermarket from each census tract. Coupled with income, if more than 33 percent of a population in a given area lives more than a mile away from a supermarket, that is considered a low-access area.

"For geographers, that definition is problematic, because the perception of distance can change-something can be far away but feel close if you have a car, for example," Shannon explained. "Access to healthy food is a question of resources and daily mobility as well as proximity."

Food deserts straddle development, politics, economics and transportation issues; one solution used in many localities has been to introduce a new supermarket or big box store into a low access area. Shannon's research and related case study suggest a different development alternative may be more effective.

One primary finding documents how low-income people access the food system and confirms that people do not only shop where they live.

Physical development of our communities dictates so much about the quality of life - of all citizens. With income disparities only growing more acute, conversations about development will be even more dominated by economic interests at the top. But understanding how development issues - and food access is certainly one - affect all members of the community (and as Shannon notes, food deserts are often invoked to support certain schemes) is more important than ever. This work, and the accompanying map, go a long way to helping make us more informed. More great work for our geographers.

Robinson receives SEC Faculty Achievement Award


Gregory-H-Robinson.jpgThe accolades continue to roll in for Foundation Distinguished Professor of Chemistry Gregory H. Robinson. One of our most outstanding faculty members, Robinson

has been named the University of Georgia's 2014 recipient of the Southeastern Conference Faculty Achievement Award.

The award, which is administered by SEC provosts, recognizes one faculty member from each of the 14 SEC schools and includes a $5,000 honorarium. Robinson joined the UGA faculty in 1995 and was named Distinguished Research Professor in 2000, Franklin Professor in 2005 and Foundation Distinguished Professor in 2013.

"Dr. Robinson excels as a scholar and as an instructor who demonstrates an outstanding level of commitment to the university and to his field," said Pamela Whitten, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. "He represents the University of Georgia with distinction in all that he does and is most deserving of this honor."

A dear friend of the blog in addition to being a great scientist and scholar, Robinson's findings on chemical bonding in inorganic compounds have reshaped the view of scientists around the world on that subject. A dedicated mentor, Robinson is involved with students at every stage of their experience at UGA - from prospective to post-doc. We are very proud of this most recent achievement, and humbled by Dr. Robinson's efforts on every front of UGA's mission.

Image: Gregory Robinson, courtesy of UGA Photo Services.

State of Black America 2014


The National Urban League has published the 38th edition of The State of Black America, a book with essays by some of our nation's leading thinkers, including our own J. Marshall Shepherd:

the State of Black America®– One Nation Underemployed: Jobs Rebuild America – underscores a reality the National Urban League knows all too well – that the major impediments to equality, empowerment and mobility are jobs, access to a living wage and wealth parity. Amidst the discourse and debate about income inequality and other economic news-of-the-day, One Nation Underemployed: Jobs Rebuild Americaunderscores the urgency of the jobs crisis—both un-and-under-employment—and  how African Americans and other communities of color can recover from the losses of the Great Recession and forge a path to economic stability and upward mobility.

As the National Urban League continues to press the case for closing the growing divide in economic opportunity, the State of Black America presents the Equality Index™, an important tool for tracking racial equality in America, now in its tenth edition of the Black-White Index and its fifth edition of the Hispanic-White Index.

Alongside essays by Shepherd, Wynton Marsalis, Kathleen Sibelius and Jeffrey Robinson, the book contains: 

  • rankings of metro areas based on unemployment and income equality for Blacks and Hispanics
  • 26 featuted metro areas with large African American and/or Hispanic populations
  • comentaties from the mayors of four of these areas

It's an outstanding collection of essays from leaders in every field, and we are proud of and proud to support Dr. Shepherd's presence among them. The book can be viewed online here.

Thinc. at UGA


thinc-logo.jpgGet ready for Thinc. Week at UGA, beginning April 13:

an initiative that encourages entrepreneurship, will host the second annual Thinc. Week April 13-17 on the University of Georgia Athens campus. The action-packed week of signature events featuring speakers, competitions and performances is open to all students, faculty and staff, and the public. 


Make the world better
Entrepreneurship doesn't always mean starting a for-profit business. Some of the world's most successful entrepreneurs got their start because they wanted to help people in their community.

A full schedule of events, speakers and related activities is available at The Franklin College is fully enaged with the Thinc. initiative, with our students, faculty, staff alumni involved at every level. Make plans to attend these events and find new ways to unleash your creative spirit.

Computer Health and Security Fair


PowerBook-165cComputer viruses and malware are no joke - today or any other day. Viruses routinely result in billions of dollars of lost productivity and lost network operation time.

Today and tomorrow, our own Office of Information Technology, partnering with EITS, will offer free laptop security check ups for the university community:

Two departments at the University of Georgia will host the spring Computer Health and Security Fair April 1-2, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the second floor lobby of the Miller Learning Center.

UGA students, faculty and staff are invited to bring their personal laptops for free security checks during the two-day event.

Technical volunteers will provide free virus and malware removal, and offer security consultations and checkups to ensure that laptops are using the latest and most secure software and plug-ins.


"Partnering with EITS on the Computer Health and Security Fair creates an excellent opportunity for faculty and staff in Franklin College to have technical professionals perform security checkups on their personal laptops," said Christine Miller, assistant dean and IT executive director for Franklin College

Come on down, open of your laptop and say, "Ahhh."

Women's History Month keynote address: Robin Morgan


RM 2013 head shot.A special Blue-card and First-year Odyssey event will take place tonight at 6:30 p.m. in MLC 101, the keynote address for Women History Month at UGA - "A New Sisterhood for the Age of Twitter" by noted political theorist, activist and writer Robin Morgan:

award-winning poet, novelist, political theorist, feminist activist, journalist, editor and best-selling author, Robin Morgan. She is the founder and president of The Sisterhood is Global Institute, co-founder of, and co-founder of The Women’s Media Center, with Gloria Steinem and Jane Fonda. She has published more than 20 books, including the now-classic anthologies Sisterhood is Powerful and Sisterhood is Global.  Sisterhood is Powerful was cited by the New York Public Library as “One of the 100 most influential books of the 20th Century.” In 1990, as Ms. Magazine Editor-in-Chief, she re-launched the magazine as an international, award-winning, ad-free bimonthly.  She is a recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Prize in Poetry and numerous other honors. Robin Morgan is considered one of the founders and leaders of contemporary feminism in the United States and a leader in the international women’s movement for 30 years.

Reception to immediately follow the lecture.

This event is free and open to the public. Kudos to our Institute for Women's Studies for not just this event but for being a dynamic campus unit that fosters crucial discussions on topics important to our entire community. It's one of the many things that makes campus a mainline conduit to the wider cultural life all around us. It runs through UGA.